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Friday, June 19, 2009

Opening Day

Tonight, in Chambersburg, PA and Rockford, IL, the curtain raises on the 2009 edition of the Drum Corps International Summer Music Games. My latest short-and-sweet entry, in addition to several other entries in the nearly two years I've been blogging marching and sports, expressed quite simply that I'm anti-electronic instruments pro-acoustic instrumentation. I figured I'd go on the record and say a little more about that.

I'll start by saying that despite my opposition, I'm willing to keep an open mind. Drum corps is an activity I love and fully expect to continue to love, even with such changes made. Personally, I see no reason that electronic instruments should be added, and quite frankly, think it's a bad idea. But I'm willing to have those beliefs challenged. If you know anything about my evolution as a fan of the marching arts, you'll know that it was not too long ago that I considered the pit to be an aberration. I marched traditional style, and pits represented something I did not want to see in a marching band--namely, not marching.

Similarly, electronic instruments represent something I don't want to see in drum and bugle corps: Instrumentation that is not brass or percussion. I think it can and likely will be used well and sound good. I've barely (there's been very little featured in Fan Network videos) heard a single note played by a synthesizer or other electronic instrument in drum corps, so I can't say that I won't like its effect. But I can say, even before hearing anything done with it, that I'd rather they do a show with whatever "coolness" they can creatively muster with the instrumentation as it stood prior to this season than with whatever enhancements will be made courtesy of the new found toolset.

Back to the pit, I'll draw an analogy that's oft irked me. Sometimes, a marching band or corps will have a drum set in the pit. To me, a talented battery should be able to do anything--and more--that a player on set can do. Why not use them in that capacity? While a synthesizer admittedly offers more options than a hornline, drumline, or even the human voice, the added elements are not something I'd miss.

I expect it will go well in most cases. I'll likely tolerate it, and perhaps even learn to like it. But I don't expect to see the day where I can't live without it. Maybe this is setting up for some corps, years down the line, to do an "Unplugged" show.

Finally, another rule change that I had forgotten completely about: This year, the miking of brass instruments is allowed. I've said it before and I'll say it again: In the wisdom of Mr. Parets, my high school band director: BLOW THE DAMN HORN!

Another season is upon us. And change isn't just for the White House. Enjoy!
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